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KARNAK DAYS                           217
ness and ignorance in which the hierophants found their candidate at the beginning of his initiation; for upon awakening he would open his eyes to the rays of the sun in another place, whither he would be carried towards the end of this experience in spiritual illumination. After a lengthy initiation, begun at night and finished with the dawn of day, the newly-made initiate had stepped out of materialistic ignorance (darkness) into spiritual perception (light).
The secret rites of the Mysteries were practised in underground crypts, or in reserved chambers set close to the holy shrine, or in litde temples built on the roofs; never elsewhere. All these places were forbidden territory to the populace, who dared not approach them under the direst penalties. The hierophants who had undertaken to initiate a candidate likewise undertook a heavy responsibility. His life or death was in their hands. For an unexpected intruder to interrupt the sacred rite of initiation meant his death, no less than an unexpected intrusion upon a delicate surgical operation, in our time, might mean the death of the unfortunate patient. And what, after all, was initiation but a kind of psychic surgical operation, a separation of the psychic from the physical part of man? Hence, all the initiatory chambers were placed out of reach and were always well guarded. Those which lay near the shrine of a great temple would have to be approached through complete blackness, for as one left the doorway the light receded, to disappear altogether when the threshold of the holy shrine was reached. Once the candidate was thoroughly entranced, his body was left in this protective darkness until the dose of his initiation, when he was carried out to the light.
Those chambers which were underground vaults were used in the same manner, every light being extinguished after enhancement, so that the crypts became both symbolical and literal graves.
I dropped down, a hole afid explored a dark vault where the priests had once practised their most secret rites, and then I emerged with relief into the friendly sunlight and fresh air.
I passed between the enormous portals of the fine temple of Amen-Ra in my onward journey through the dimmed glories of Karnak. These portals were fit for the passage of giants